Targeting Surachai

27 01 2013

Part of the 1985 cover of the UCL Newsleter

Many readers will know that Surachai Danwattananusorn has been incarcerated on several lese majeste charges since 22 February 2011. On 28 February 2012, the then 71 year-old Surachai was sentenced to 15 years in jail for speeches made in late 2010. This was halved for his guilty plea.  On 27 April 2012, Surachai was sentenced to a further 5 years in jail. The court halved this sentence because of his guilty plea on the previous charges.  On 17 May 2012, he was hospitalized and scheduled for a prostrate operation. He came out of jail and hospital to be sentenced on yet one more charge on 28 May 2012. He received a further 5 years, reduced by half, for a speech on 15 December 2008. That’s a total of 12.5 years in jail. Surachai filed for a royal pardon on 20 August 2012.

At New Mandala, which has been surprisingly quiet on recent lese majeste cases and sentences, academic Jim Taylor has a brief interview with Surachai. PPT won’t repeat the details here, but we do want to add to the story from a document we recently came across from the mid-1980s. That was an appeal from the Union of Civil Liberty for Surachai, who had been tried in a kangaroo/military court under the administration of unelected Prime Minister General Prem Tinsulanonda, now Privy Council president. He was eventually released after an international and local campaign.

Undoubtedly Surachai has been a confrontational political activist. That is why the royalist state and the Prem and Abhisit Vejjajiva governments targeted him. It seems that the leaders of the royalist cabal, miffed that they couldn’t halt his activities in the 1980s have long memories and came after him again as he led Red Siam. As there has been not a peep from above regarding his amnesty, it seems he has a second “death” sentence at the hands of essentially the same cabal.



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